We've got nearly 2500 words coming at you in this post. First some notes: Mr. Ian Woon is an anagram of NaNoWriMo and was a character name I read about while writing my book and decided I would go ahead and throw my own body to the name. Victor is essentially Victor Ward, although I am interested in perhaps refining the concept of this for Chasing Victor, where the character would be more inspired by than pilfered from Bret Easton Ellis's Glamorama. The brief cameo appearance of "Amanda" is a reference to Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City, in a similar fashion. I intended to steal her outright, but due to the nature of the scene, I feel like there's not all that much I've literally pilfered except for the name. So while I think you are able to read the book and this section and consider the two the same character, I'm not sure I feel bad about ripping off McInerney, because I would claim I haven't Now, onward and wayward into the story. Not going to write anything after these, but I'd be happy to interview in the comments section.
(narrated by the inimitable actor Mr. Ian Woon)
This is how you make someone fall in love with you.
At first meeting you must say that you are so honored to be in their presence, to be working with them, to be a subject of them; be as aggrandizing as you possibly can. No matter what people say, they all react the same way to grandiose remarks in their direction. The more you learn about this person, the more you pick and choose on your compliments. It is only a comment on something dear that will be remembered, so knowing what someone wants, what someone loves, what someone strives to accomplish does wonders for his or her feelings towards you.
It is always easier to make someone fall for you if they don’t know who you are, but that doesn’t make it all that simple. One still has to form the perfect blend of the person they are, the person they want, and the person that they’ve always wanted to be. But be cautious, do not just decide you want someone to love you as if it were a quick, meaningless decision to make. The fact of the matter is, it is quite possible that this person will never stop loving you, and it is much harder to brainwash yourself in much the same fashion.
There are steps to be followed, perhaps, but they vary drastically. What is always first is establishing their identity. For simplicity’s sake a large amount of personalities can be classified as male or female, no matter the gender of the person, and utilizing the most sexist of steriotypes. When you are trying to sketch a person, it is a lot easier to take the ethical fall and profile as much as possible. In this way, you have a quick checklist to run through, because the hardest part of defining someone is knowing where to begin. Of course it is almost always best to keep this list secret, so subtlety is a necessity.
Once you’ve roughly painted the borders of a person and once you’ve gotten to know them on a somewhat personal level, the movement to detail is a rough one. A sure fire way to help establish yourself in their mind is to share fantasies of any sort, but this also runs the risk of making yourself known. When people know that you want them, it becomes a lot harder for you to create anything on their end, unless it is already there, and also creates a sort of shield, since you will most likely get some sort of stalker treatment.
But other than all that, the number one rule is not to change the subject if the subject is your prospective lover. People love to speak about themselves, because people love to lie about themselves. Ultimately and perhaps ironically, a lack of memorable prior contact becomes all the more useful in baiting the hook. If you know this person more well than he or she thinks and you can catch this person in a lie, you are at an advantage. However, just let it go, because making any comment will definitely move the spotlight onto you, which makes it hard to stay as molding clay and basically makes who you are a statue.
“You’re very good at acting as an actor.” Victor said to me one night after we’d eaten out somewhere expensive and picked up a couple of girls. That was hours ago then, so I guess it was a morning. Victor’s one night bride had all of about three roles to her name, but had the figure of Helen of fucking Troy and a face that it wouldn’t be hard to project someone else on.
My woman, I’d met her before, at a modeling show in Manhattan, where she turned me down for drinks after, and I can’t help but think that she only said yes now so that she could get to Victor, but I can’t blame her, since we’re playing the same game, and the sex was fine enough. Her name was Amanda and she said that I reminded her of her husband, who she might or might not have been divorced from, and the only answer she had for me, when I asked why she was so far from home, was that Paris was her only home these days, and New York was just as different from France as anywhere else. Debating whether or not to tear that statement apart, I let her get me up again, and we passed more time that way, but my mind wasn’t really in it. Then I drove her to some street from which she could safely whore her way into a hotel for the night and made a call back on Victor and he told me I was good at acting like I was acting, which I couldn’t quite decipher as either a compliment or an insult.
“Yeah, I guess I am,” I said, looking for something to give him away. “Have you worked with the director before?” but of course I know he hasn’t, I know every damn thing about the man, so it’s a good thing he doesn’t have the memory to notice.
“No, hadn’t even heard of him until I got a call about this script, read it, loved it.” He’s so full of shit, the lines he’s flubbed, sometimes I have to question whether or not he could read. Victor is the prime example of someone who would already have died if he wasn’t so drop dead gorgeous.
“I was a cashier in one of his short films. I can’t think of the name, but it’s the one that put him on the map at that film festival.” This is only mostly a lie, so I just keep digging the hole. “Do you know the one I’m talking about? Story had to do with a penny I think. I had like two and a half lines.” A contradiction dawns on me, him saying he’d never heard of the director and me asking whether he knows this film, but I seriously doubt he’ll pick up on it, when he does.
“No, no, Ian, like I said, I’d never heard of the man, haven’t seen a single bit of film from the man. But interesting,” he pauses and I can’t help but look at his face, “you were playing a cashier then, nameless I’d assume, and now you’re Mr. Ian Woon.” And then something I never expected to hear from someone like him. “Do you ever get your people mixed up? Acting full-time in roles you never really leave, have you ever forgotten who you actually are?”
(narrated by the great detective Jack Kraloni)
I don’t think there was anything womblike about that whole setting, but it made me think about my parents, being so close to death there. Obviously they’d been gone for less time back then. I remembered a moment, an argument, where I had run out of the room and my father had looked at my mother and just stopped. A few seconds later he said he was sorry for everything he had ever done, would ever do, and he went out for a walk.
Course that time he came back, but the way memories fuse together, gets so they’re about as reputable as poems. With a son of my own, I try to remember the things my father did that I enjoyed, that I would like to pass on. It is a hard thing, since we are so alike, for me to push past all it is that I want to change, but sometimes you just have to remember the dead the best way you can.
I wrote him a letter and left it on his grave. I wonder if someone might come up upon it one day and read it. There is a certain feeling here, not unlike sending out a message in a bottle from somewhere other than a near inescapable desert island where your ship has wrecked. It took me a while to come up with the words and I put them down on a Vegas postcard after writing them on paper a few times. My father once told me that he’d rather write than speak, because he was never good thinking on his feet. This was, of course, a lie; you would notice if you ever saw him see a criminal in the middle of the road, whether it be a crime in front of him or a recognizable face, he would take off in spite of whatever age he might have been.
What I remember I try not to let bother me, because my memory has never been overly sound. There’s this image I see of a book somewhere open, empty pages, and someone takes a quill, and fills it with what looks like blood, and this person begins to write in a cursive scrawl much too complex for my decipherment, what this feels like is me walking in on my parents during one of their soft periods, and I feel like I need to just turn around and let things go their way, but this person beckons me forward. There’s a cloak, I think, that’s why I can’t tell the gender. I walk up to the book and notice how big it really is, so much so that it was farther away than I thought to make it the size it appeared.
That’s about where I realize this is a dream and I can imagine this kid I met out there, name of Paul, typing away at a computer in much the same way this guy is writing. Stroke by stroke, the words, sentences, paragraphs; slowly whole stories appear. At times like these, you can’t help but think back on the whole creative process. The ability to just talk so much about other people, it seems to be caused by some kind of hole in the person, something that’s missing, its absence causing a searching of terrains, of possibilities, to find a cap to that hole, although nothing will ever fit.
When my father died, I kept looking for a killer that now I can’t believe was ever there, but I also went out in search of someone else to model myself on, someone else who I could strive to be. Shamefully I’ll tell you I met O’Connell about this time and he’s got at least five years on me, which possibly means I just latched onto him because he was there, and I guess for that I should probably feel sorry. But when you look back from the edge, when you’ve been holding onto the cliff face, you lose a little of the feeling in your hands and arms and you start to care less about who you owe apologies to.
In that dream, this person starts writing things I can’t read on the paper, it feels almost as if I’m bleeding out slowly, with the ink that makes it onto the paper, I’m losing something here, but I hope there’s something to be gained, a benefit to the whole experience. That’s the way it’s all supposed to go down, you get something in the end. And I’m looking up to the sky which is reddening with a setting sun and as I look down I notice that I’m in a desert and this person keeps writing, but the words are disappearing as more are written, as if they are wiping themselves away.
And I wonder, in those words being written, the stories being told, what all there is said. What all has been done.
(narrated by the estimable gentleman Pasha Constantine)
Back, when I was very young, when I first learned how to write, I used to copy out words from the dictionary. The words I actually knew, because I still couldn’t read. I would ask my mother if she was home and she would say, “This one right here,” point to the book, “you know this one,” and she’d have me sound it out for her. But when she wasn’t around, I would go to my father. He would often give me one of various four letter words I didn’t know, but more commonly he’d just point somewhere in the book and say the word. Even if I didn’t know it, it felt better when he would just tell me how it sounded.
And maybe none of that happened, because I’m some sort of wandering Jew and when I was a lad we had no dictionaries, but believe what you will, I have so many memories these days, I have no way of telling you what’s true, what’s false. Your guess is as good as mine and perhaps better since I’m biased to see myself favorably. My point being then, that that’s what this feels like. Writing without knowing what the words actually mean.
I must admit, I liked my father’s minimalism for little reason other than it was less work on me, but there was a reason I truly hated pronouncing words I didn’t know. Even then I was predicting class period readings and all the snickers when you said something wrong; being a reader now for most all of my life, I still have a fear of not knowing how to pronounce something that has jumped from the reading to the verbal vocabulary.
Or, when I first learned who I was, I picked up my makeshift chisel and I cut into the stone of my cave a symbol. And looking up to that wall, night after night, my wife with me, or whatever you might call her in a time before marriage, I would think about my existence. And now, still here, perhaps I go back there every now and then. Possibly it is that I look up at that cave ceiling and I think about the thrill of the moment. The thought rushing through my head that this was somehow something else, something new.
Writing. It makes up me no matter which way you look at it, whether here or there, when I fill my quill, and I set it down, I begin to spill myself on the page. So far I show no sign of running dry.